- France’s Teddy Thomas scored two early tries to put Scotland on the back foot at Murrayfield on Sunday
- But Scotland responded as Sean Maitland and Huw Jones went over to reduce the deficit in Six Nations match
- Maxime Machenaud scored two penalties for France to give them a 20-14 half-time lead over Scotland
- Four penalties from Greig Laidlaw in the second half levelled the score to make it 26-26 with 15 minutes left
- Two more penalties from Laidlaw ensured Gregor Townsend’s men earned a 32-26 win over France
Gregor Townsend promised that the ‘true Scotland’ would turn up this weekend, and they certainly looked more like themselves with a hard-fought Six Nations victory over France thanks to a nerveless kicking display from Greig Laidlaw.
Sean Maitland and Huw Jones crossed for excellent first-half tries, but it was Laidlaw’s 22-point point haul which proved crucial.
This result won’t erase the pain of last weekend’s debacle in Cardiff but this was a stunning riposte. Scottish wins over France are a rarity. This was only their second win in 13 games against Les Bleus. It was by no means a perfect display and their leaky defence will continue to raise concerns, but this was a step in the right direction.
Teddy Thomas of France gets past Finn Russell of Scotland and goes on to score his side’s first try on Sunday afternoon
France’s Thomas breaks through and scores the first try of the Six Nations game inside the opening three minutes
Thomas goes over the line to score an exceptional try, similar to the one that he scored against Ireland last weekend
The Scots very much had Laidlaw to thank for this win. The Clermont scrum-half was one of six personnel called up by Townsend this week to shake things up and he duly delivered with a faultless kicking display,
The visitors were also hurting after their last-gasp defeat by Ireland in Paris. Johnny Sexton’s 42-metre drop goal denying Jacques Brunel’s new-look side an opening win in the championship. Having brought a 19-year-old rookie into the fold last weekend in Matthieu Jalibert. This weekend they turned to Lionel Beauxis, a 32 year old veteran, who has been in international exile for six years to step in at No 10. You can’t get more French than that.
Les Bleus had to make 253 tackles during last weekend’s slugfest at the Stade de France but they showed no signs of faitigue and, fittingly, it was Teddy Thomas who sparked them into life. The 24-year-old Racing 92 wing looked to have won the game for France last time out with a scintillating 50-metre effort before Sexton spoiled the party.
France’s scrum-half Maxime Machenaud scored the resulting conversion to give France a 7-0 lead during the early stages
Scotland’s Sean Maitland scores their first try of the Six Nations match against France at Murrayfield on Sunday afternoon
Russell put Maitland clean through for Scotland 10 metres out and he went over in the corner to reduce the deficit
Scotland: Hogg; Seymour, Jones, Horne, Maitland; Russell (Price 65) Laidlaw; Reid (Bhatti 58), McInally, Berghan; Gilchrist (Toolis 58), J Gray; Barclay (capt) (Denton 65), Wilson, Watson
Replacements not used: Lawson, Welsh, Harris, Kinghorn
France: Palis; Thomas, Lamerat, Doumayrou, Vakatawa (Fall 72); Beauxis (Belleau 72), Machenaud (Serin 40); Poirot (Ben Arous 58), Guirado (capt) (Pelissie 74), Slimani (Gomes Sa 58); Iturria, Vahaamahina (Gabrillagues 72); Lauret, Tauleigne (Picamoles 58), Camara.
Referee: John Lacey
MOTM: Greig Laidlaw
He picked up from where he left off last time out with another audacious individual effort. France moved well through the phases before Geoffrey Doumayrou sent a stray pass towards Thomas, but the French flier scooped up and, from a standing start, danced around Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg for a stunning solo-try. Maxime Machenaud’s conversion left the Scots stunned at 7-0.
It got worse for the home side as Jonny Gray was penalised for holding on with France flanker Wenceslat Lauret doing brilliantly to get over the ball and force the penalty. The metronomic Machenaud making it 10-0 from the tee.
Having been on the back foot for 10 minutes, Scotland finally get Stuart Hogg into space and his delicate chip forced Thomas to kick the ball dead handing Scotland a prime attacking lineout. Gilchrist rose high to claim the lineout and the forwards hammered the line. Jonny Gray made a big charge into Machenaud before offloading to fellow lock Gilchrist who fed Russell who duly sent Maitland racing over in the corner. Laidlaw landed the touchline conversion and the home side were up and running.
Maitland celebrates with his team-mates after responding to France’s early try with a try for Scotland in the 14th minute
Thomas chips the ball over Stuart Hogg and chases it down to score France’s second try of the match on Sunday afternoon
Thomas (second left) of France celebrates with his team-mates after crossing over the line for the second time in the match
France were making plenty of big plays and when you have a player like Thomas in your team, anything is possible.
He conjured another try out of virtually nothing in the 26th minute. The French wizard chipped over Hogg and a footrace ensued. Laidlaw looked to have the danger covered but a wicked bounce over the Scotland scrum-half landed straight into Thomas’ grateful hands as he bagged a stunning first-half brace. Machenaud once again added the extras as France raced into a 17-7 lead.
Scotland needed a reply, and fast. Finn Russell’s flaky form was not helping matters. The Scotland No 10 twice kicking out on the full during fitful periods in possesssion. Laidlaw, however, was not struggling for rhythm as he sent Huw Jones racing under the posts with a perfectly-time pass. Jones has got quite the strike rate for Scotland, he scored his eighth try in 13 appearances.
Scotland were on the run again minutes later as Maitland scythed his way through the France cover, but a promising attacking move came to a shuddering halt when referee John Lacey penalised the Saracens wing for failing to release the ball.
A general view of a packed Murrayfield as Scotland secured their first win in this year’s Six Nations competition
Scotland responded with Huw Jones scoring his side’s second try of the match by cutting through the France defence
Jones celebrates scoring his try with team-mate Greig Laidlaw, who scored the conversion to make it 17-14 to France
France’s Maxime Machenaud kicks a penalty to give France a 20-14 lead heading into the break after a pulsating first half
The visitors had the final say of the first-half when lock Arthur Itturia was taken out in the air by Gilchrist. Machenaud fired over the penalty to give France a 20-14 to bring an end to a breathless first-half.
Trailing by six points, the Scots needed some early points and Gilchrist duly obliged. The Scotland second rower’s barrelling run forcing France offside and Laidlaw stepped up to nail the resuling three-pointer
France lost Machenaud at half time with the wondrously talented Baptiste Serin sent on to fill the void at scrum half as well as taking over the kicking duties. Serin’s 46th-minute penalty pushing his side out to a six-point lead once more.
More French indiscipline, from Itturria who took out Stuart McInally off the ball, allowed Laidlaw to trim his side’s lead soon after.
Laidlaw scored two penalties early in the second half but Baptiste Serin also scored two to keep France six points ahead
Yacouba Camara (centre) of France in action against Scotland players Jones (left) and Tommy Seymour (right) on Sunday
There is no better sight than seeing Hogg in full flow. The Glasgow full-back bamboozling the French defence with a mazy 40-metre run but another promising move broke down with Jones not able to hold Russell’s pass on the next phase.
Scotland were forced to repel a 19-phase of French pressure, but that pressure eventually told as the home side strayed offside. Serin stepping up to nail a 57th-minute penalty.
The pea in Lacey’s whistle continued to rattle as Louis Picamoles, who replaced Marco Tauleigne on the hour mark, handled in the ruck. The ever-reliable Laidlaw setting up a grandstand final quarter with his third successful penalty of the afternoon.
At 26-23, it was anyone’s game.
Soon after, substitute France loosehead Eddy Ben Arous was penalised for ‘hinging’ at scrum time handing Laidlaw another shot at goal. The Clermont half-back levelled matters from 40 metres out. Game on.
Laidlaw looks on as he kicks a penalty to level the score in the second half of the Six Nations clash at Murrayfield on Sunday
Laidlaw kicked two more penalties to give Scotland a much-needed 32-26 win over France in the Six Nations clash
A moment of madness from Beauxis almost handed Scotland the advantage. The French fly-half putting his full-back Geoffrey Palis under ridiculous pressure with a backhanded offload on his own tryline, but his pack dug him out of the hole as they effected a choke tackle on Hamish Watson to halt the danger.
All the momentum was with the home side as Townsend sent on Ali Price and David Denton to add power and pace to the home attack. Russell made way for his Glasgow team-mate Price with the nerveless Laidlaw moving to fly-half.
And it was that man once again who finally fired his side into the lead with 10 minutes of the contest remaining.
Scotland had the bit between their teeth now as they took up residence in French territory. When Denton made a big charge, the tiring French pack strayed offside. You felt Laidlaw would kick over the resulting three-pointer blindfolded and he duly converted to secure a precious six-point lead.
And that’s the way it stayed as the Scots got some of their groove back. Up next is the visit of England to Murrayfield for the Calcutta Cup in two weekend’s time. There won’t be an empty seat in the house for that one.
Scotland’s Ali Price and team mates celebrate at the end of the game after securing a 32-26 win over France at Murrayfield
Jamie Bhatti of Scotland celebrates with Stuart McInally of Scotland celebrate after the final whistle on Sunday afternoon
Scotland’s John Barclay celebrates with the Auld Alliance Trophy following their win over France on Sunday in the Six Nations
–Credit: Sport | Mail Online